When you begin your Shopify journey you can get a store up and running very quickly using the free theme “Debut” that is automatically installed on the website for you. This is fine for someone starting out with no knowledge of design, coding or how to use Shopify to its full potential and will give you a basic looking store front. As soon as you want to do a little bit more and control more aspects of the websites look and feel you will want to start exploring Shopify Themes.
There are two types of theme in our opinion. Not counting of course the 6 free ones.
The Shopify Theme Store
Easy to access and part of the Shopify Ecosystem, the Shopify theme store contains 75 different themes. 6 of these are free and allow you to get started. They do however as stated above lack in quality and attributes that are synonymous with most paid themes.
The rest of the themes are premium themes built with the sole purpose of helping you sell more and offer better customer service to your customers. There are currently 64 paid themes on the Shopify Theme Store and each one has a few variations based on your industry so the total is much more. We buy from both the Shopify Theme Store and external providers and think a little research is essential. If you want to play it safe then use the Shopify store.
You can be assured of a high-quality Themes that are backed by Shopify. They will come with good support either from Shopify or the theme builder. They will also work well on a mobile device because that has been a requirement for years and Shopify would not support the theme if it didn’t. As with any software you download, be it an app on your phone or a new email provider do your research first. Make a list of your requirements in the first instance and go from there.
Questions to ask.
- What are the themes with the best support?
- Check the reviews for more information?
- Themes with more downloads are much more likely to be good.
- Does the theme do everything you want it to?
- How does it look on a mobile device?
- Can you zoom in on products?
- Is speed of the theme a key component of its code?
What you need to consider is the functionality provided by the theme. If you buy a cheaper theme lacking in certain functions, then you may need to either add an app to the website or create some code to make the function happen. What we know from experience is that adding an app or more code is a sure-fire way to slow any website down. If you can reduce the number of apps required and keep code changes to a minimum, then you are going to have a fast website which is one of the key pillars of SEO.
If you buy a theme from within the Shopify Theme store it is also much easier to install. With a couple of clicks you can add the theme to your site without having to download a zip file and upload that to the back end. You can also pay for the theme from within your Shopify payments structure.
External Shopify Themes
One of the criticisms of Shopify can be the lack of theme options. When compared with Wordpress as we did in our previous blog, the number of themes is dwarfed. In our opinion though large numbers mean lots of dross, so as always doing your research is key. Outside of the Shopify Theme Store there are a number of well know theme providers two of which we use regularly for our clients.
Envato Elements or Theme Forest as it is also know is a popular destination for people searching for Shopify themes. To be honest we have never had much luck with these, there are a lot to choose from with mixed reviews and not that many download numbers. Again keep an eye out for reviews and number of downloads. Most themes offer a demo site or two for you to look at. Bear in mind that if you are looking at a cheap theme it will not come with much in the way of functionality. You may only be able to add a few colours to the theme and choosing fonts can be a nightmare.
Out of the Sandbox and Pixel Union
The Themes available on Shopify Theme store are all pretty good but when you want something a bit more special then you might want to check out the likes of Out of The Sandbox or Pixel Union. We use Out of The Sandbox for our own eCommerce Pet Store Dogs Dogs Dogs. Our chosen theme is Turbo from Out of The Sandbox and costs $350 and is delivered as a zip file which you then need to upload and publish.
To give you an idea of what a good theme that costs over $300 comes with Turbo is a great example. It is built with smart page preloading for ultra-fast navigation. You can choose between two speed settings including ludicrous and sports. The mega Menu options are great and mean you don’t have to add an app to be able to provide users with an easy to use navigation. This is so important if you have a large inventory and want to make it easy to find the right product. There are lots of other features with Turbo including:
- CSS customization
- Upgraded Product Layouts
- Predictive Search
- Built in Newsletter Pop ups
- Mega Menus
- Two Speed settings
- Endless customization of the theme, colours, fonts, headings etc.
Pixel Union is another of our favourites and they also make a series of apps so you know the two will work together without any hassle. The latest theme in their stable is Empire and comes with functionality that lets you create your own Amazon style store. This is suitable if you have a large inventory with lots of variants and don’t want to install lots of apps to get going.
Our Thoughts on Shopify Themes
In conclusion, we would recommend you choose your theme from the Shopify Stable. That way you have someone (Shopify) to fall back on. One of the major benefits of Shopify is the support provided to store owners. Remember to make a list of your requirements before you go hunting. You can also visit other stores in your industry and work out if they have been built on Shopify. You should then be able to look at the code and find out what theme has been used.
How do you find out what theme the Shopify Store is using? Simply right click on the homepage of the website and select view source. Then click Control F and search for the theme name or the word theme. This will pull up a lot of results but if you filter then you can see what theme has been used and purchase it yourself. If you are looking for advice on Shopify themes then please get in touch with us. We have experience using both free and paid for Shopify themes and can point you in the right direction.